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Your search for the tag 'old tongue' yielded 52 results

  • 1

    Interview: Jan 25th, 2005

    Week 14 Question

    If the Forsaken were sealed away in Shayol Ghul since the Age of Legends, with no contact with the outside world, wouldn't they be speaking the Old Tongue when they woke back up? How did they learn the Common Tongue?

    Robert Jordan

    They still do speak the Old Tongue among themselves, but the first two who were freed, Aginor and Balthamel, had been held very near to the edge of the sealing, the reason they were so visibly affected and twisted while the rest came out whole and healthy, and they were very much aware of what had gone on in the world outside. You might say they had floated in limbo while watching three thousand plus years roll by, with the ability to zoom in. That is probably the only reason they didn't emerge entirely mad. In truth, those two have a much better understanding of the current world than any of the others because they watched it forming. They don't have a complete knowledge, because they couldn't see and hear everything at once, but they have an overview that is unavailable to any of the others, excepting Ishamael to a lesser extent. But then, he's a special case.

    For the rest (aside from Ishamael), who spend those thousands of years in a dreamless sleep, the language spoken "here and now" was derived from the Old Tongue. I've heard the analogy used of a well-educated, highly intelligent citizen of ancient Rome needing to learn modern Italian. It would hardly be a slam-dunk, but he or she would have the roots of the language already. In the case of the Forsaken, the task is actually easier than that of the ancient Roman, since modern Italian is a more complex language than Latin, while the Old Tongue, as I have said time and again, is more complex and nuanced than the language of "today."

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  • 2

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Daniel Rouk

    He mentioned the height of all the characters. Erica wrote those down. Basically repeated PNH's account of why the colors of the covers are always different.

    Robert Jordan

    The Old Tongue is a mix of Gaelic, Russian, Spanish, Japanese. A lot of different sources that are not traditionally used to make up fake languages. He has only a few phrases and a few small guides on usage written down.

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  • 3

    Interview: Oct 17th, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Language—It is planned. Based on Russian, Chinese and a bit of Spanish with a lot of Gaelic thrown in.

    Cultures of influence—he's real big on Chinese history right now.

    Why the swords?—As in Japan, gunpowder is suppressed so martial arts are developed and are based on the sword and on agricultural implements.

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  • 4

    Interview: Oct 11th, 2005

    Question

    Did Be'lal's name mean "Netweaver" or "Envious"?

    Robert Jordan

    RAFO.

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  • 5

    Interview: Oct 11th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    He noted that all of the Forsaken's Old Tongue adopted names would be translated in the Encyclopedia if not before.

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  • 6

    Interview: 2011

    Twitter 2011 (WoT) (Verbatim)

    Brandon Sanderson (6 January 2011)

    At the 35% mark we have Mat speaking the Old Tongue for the first time, books ahead of him getting memories stuck in his head.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I've always found this a very curious event. Of the five Two Riversers, Mat's powers are the most subtly foreshadowed in the book.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Unless you count the short exchange between Lan and Perrin about wolves in a much earlier chapter.

    KRIT PETTY

    I thought that Mat's Old Tongue was a small way of RJ letting you think maybe Mat was the important one, not Rand.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, I think you're right on that count. It was certainly meant to make us think.

    LEE DAVIS

    The speaking the Old Tongue is from his bloodline though, not his memories in that case, isn't it?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Yes, but it's still foreshadowing. He's the one who does it, not the others.

    SLEEPINGHOUR

    In The Eye of the World, is Mat remembering the Old Tongue from his own past life or from his ancestors?

    TEREZ

    Good question. He seems to have confirmed Old Blood for the Old Tongue, but the Aemon memory?

    FELIX PAX

    That's what my belief is, Aemon. Mat Cauthon is the reborn soul of Aemon. Aemon's Old Tongue.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    It isn't made clear. It could be either. The implication is his bloodline.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    The Aemon connection is certainly implied strongly.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (7 JANUARY)

    "A metal tower?" Rand said. "I'll bet there's treasure inside," Mat said. "A thing like that must have been made to protect something..."

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    This is the start of Mat acting tainted, which always makes me sad. It will be a while before I can read him as himself again.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    First time one of the boys thinks, "I wish [insert other boy] were here. He knows what to say to women" happens at the 48% mark.

    BRANDON SANDERSON (10 JANUARY)

    I love that in the scene in Four Kings, the fact that the innkeeper is thin seems almost as ill an omen as a flock of ravens.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I wonder if Mat wearing the scarf around his head here is foreshadowing intentionally, or by coincidence, of the scarf on his neck.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Either way, there's some other strong foreshadowing there of events in Towers of Midnight, though I won't say specifics to avoid spoilers.

    ADAM DOWARD

    I've been wondering for ages is Mat going to wear an eye patch? Or will he wear a strip of cloth like Gemmel's Grymauch?

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    RAFO.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Not sure what I think of the "start chapter, flashback to what has happened since last chapter" narrative style RJ prefers here.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    I don't think he does it as much later. In these first books, he seems more worried about characters going chronologically off of each other.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Note that I do like flashbacks, and think that Chapter 33 is interesting structurally. I don't know if it fits just right, though.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    A good point: Some note that the erratic timeline here does help reinforce the sense of sickness from Rand and Mat's growing paranoia.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Also, it's fun that Mat is getting paranoid and crazy because of the dagger—except when he's thinking about food or a nice bed.

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  • 7

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Dear Bruce et al.,

    Your questions are complex, or at least their answers are, and I'm afraid that the time I put into answering letters is time not put into writing, but I will try to answer you. Though I suspect not as fully as you would like. (I have 60 letters to answer today.)

    What language is the Old Tongue based on? Gaelic, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and some additions of my own—bridging material, if you will. Grammar and syntax are a blending of English, German and Chinese, with some influences from a set of African languages, read about long ago and all but the oddities of structure long since forgotten. There are inverted constructions, for example (as in Mordero dagain pas duente cuebiyar!—literally, "Death fear none holds my heart!") and places where the article is omitted, especially where the word is a title or has gained enough importance to now incorporate the article; the absence of article indicates that it is the important or special meaning of the word that is intended. Though even then, it is not a hard and fast rule; the same inconsistencies of English are incorporated here. I am attempting to create a language which has grown, not one which was made.

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  • 8

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Actually there is an Ogier Language, though the Ogier all speak the human language for the simple reason that they are a distinct minority. I began with a huge list of possible words, and adapted as I went. Partly this was based in the sound. To any native speaker of a language, the sound of it is right: it seems to have the correct rhythm and flow. One thing that makes a language sound "foreign" is that the rhythm and flow sound "off." I wanted the language to sound foreign, but not too foreign. For the purposes of the books, no other of the world's languages have been necessary so far, but they do exist.

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  • 9

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    As for Common, Plain Chant, and High Chant: Common is ordinary speech, of course; telling a story as one man in the street might tell another. Plain Chant adds a rhythmic half-singing to poetic imagery; nothing is ever described plainly; conveying emotion is as important as conveying description. High Chant is sung, really, as though Benedictine monks had been brought up in a tradition of Chinese music; the rhythms are more precise, and emotional content is more important than mere description. High Chant can be all but unintelligible to those who are not used to it; it is a form used only by court bards and the like. I should point out that Common, Plain and High are not language names, but names used by bards for different forms of recitation.

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  • 10

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    The world is nationalistic, jingoistic as you put it, because people have belly-buttons. They are human. Look at the conflicts between different parts of France between the fall of Rome and, say, the Sixteenth Century; they all spoke the same language, differing only in accent, but the Normans and Burgundians, among others, were ready to kill one another at the drop of a hat. For that matter, look at out own Civil War, and various regional differences before and since. We all speak the same language, yet do you believe that a perfect state as achieved totally by local vote would be the same in say, California, Oregon, Georgia and Maine? The differences might not be as large as they once were, but that is largely an effect of radio and TV homogenizing our culture.

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  • 11

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    There are basic rules for drift, based as you say on slurring, etc. Largely it boils down to the fact that after a word is used long enough, it begins to soften and be simplified in actual use, with the written language catching up later if at all. The degree to which this happens varies from word to word. Also, from place to place. For example, Seanchan have to listen closely to understand people from our heroes' side of the ocean because the language sounds too fast, too hard and clipped. Conversely, our heroes often find Seanchan hard to understand because they speak in what seems a soft, slurring manner with an odd rhythmic quality.

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  • 12

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    The apostrophe was a compounding device, though simple combination is used also. It also signifies a slight pause; a distinct break in the word, but less than the break between two words.

    Adding an 'n' is one way to make a plural, with words ending in a vowel, but some words change form in plural and some are identical in plural and singular; including but not limited to most words that end in 'n' in the singular. The word mai means "maiden" or "maidens." One word for "spear" is dareis, but its plural is darei. Another way of making a plural is adding an 'i', as in shar—"blood" and Shari—"Bloods," or an 'in'—"seeker" is mahdi and "seekers" is mahdi'in. This is all of course complicated by the fact that some words change form depending on modifiers as well, and also sometimes to indicate increased importance (a'vron versus Ma'vron for "watchers").

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  • 13

    Interview: Nov 21st, 1994

    Robert Jordan

    Ye means "I." He is "sin," she is "sar," you is "asa," and it is "aso."

    One of the difficulties is context and flexibility: for example, al can mean "the" or "of the." The word cuebiyar can mean simply "heart," or "my heart," or when capitalized, "the heart" as in the heart of a people or nation. The word moridin means "grave" or "tomb," but when capitalized it means "the grave," standing for "death." It is intended to be a language of subtlety, where the meanings of words can change to a great extent according to context. Remember Moiraine's comments on the difficulty of translation.

    The Fourth Age titles are not Old Tongue, though influenced by it. Some common names are from the Old Tongue, and some aren't. Sorry I can't go into more detail, but we're talking a treatise.

    Well. I am going to have to cut this off, now. Thanks for writing. Keep me posted on your deductions. One of these days, maybe I'll have time to give congratulations on the hits and point out the misses. One clue to some: sometimes when words are combined and the end of the first word is the same as the beginning of the second, they overlap.

    With best wishes, I am,

    Etc, etc.

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  • 14

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    He didn't give any conclusive answer to the Two Rivers channeling paradox, but he noted that many strange occurrences come from there, like inherent ability to speak the Old Tongue under stress.

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  • 15

    Interview: Jun 16th, 1995

    Robert Jordan

    The concept of the unified language he basically explained as there had been a single language in use (the Old Tongue), and the writing and printing of books continued throughout the Breaking, albeit in a very limited extent. The written word introduced a very large conserving factor in the language-change mechanism.

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  • 16

    Interview: Jun 26th, 1996

    Compuserve Chat (Verbatim)

    Scott Robertson

    Mr Jordan, I was wondering where you came up with the "old language" and the Aiel language? Are there preset rules to them and it is a functioning language? Or do you just have a set of words that you devised and insert when needed?

    Robert Jordan

    It's a functioning language in that I have developed a basic grammar and syntax, and have a vocabulary list which I have devised, some from Gaelic of course, but from languages less often used...Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. I try to follow these rules that I've set up, but occasionally I realize I have to invent a new rule because I'm doing something I've never done before. But it all follows the grammar I've devised. As far as the Aiel that I've devised as a culture, they have bits of Apache, bits of Bedouin, bits that are simply mine.

    Footnote

    The Aiel do not have their own language, but they do use some Old Tongue words that have fallen out of use on the other side of the Dragonwall.

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  • 17

    Interview: Jun 27th, 1996

    AOL Chat 2 (Verbatim)

    Sheriam

    Mr. Jordan? If I may? How did you develop the language?

    Robert Jordan

    The words come partly from Gaelic, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese. The grammar and syntax I believe I invented myself although it's possible that another language uses the same. Of course, just as with English, I have deliberately put in some very illogical inconsistencies.

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  • 18

    Interview: Aug 25th, 1996

    Greebs

    Yeah...What about the linguistic similarity of the Old Tongue and the New Tongue? It seems there is remarkably little drift in the Seanchan dialect.

    Robert Jordan

    [Either on purpose or by accident misunderstands my question and gives the standard "Well you must understand that I've translated the New Tongue into English" answer.]

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  • 19

    Interview: Jan 14th, 1997

    Thomas Howard

    What does Maisia mean? In case you don't remember, Sammael called Graendal this when they were messing with the Shaido.

    Robert Jordan

    Mr. Jordan stated that it was a name for pets in the Age of Legends, "like Fido or Fluffy".

    Footnote

    Sammael called Graendal by the name Maisia in A Crown of Swords Chapter 20 when he was posing as Caddar.

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  • 20

    Interview: Nov 11th, 1997

    Joel from Phoenix, AZ

    Is there a complete language of the Old Tongue, and if so how long did it take you to develop it?

    Robert Jordan

    There are basic 880 some words—maybe 900. I got a list of what is considered basic English—which are the 800 odd words of a basic English vocabulary. Removed the words that were of no use in the context of my world. Came up with words in the Old Tongue in each of those English words and then added those words that did have a specific context in my world.

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  • 21

    Interview: Oct 19th, 1998

    Mark Ferguson from Edmonton, Alberta

    First, I'd like to thank you for your incredible Wheel of Time series. It's given me incredible reading enjoyment as well as given me the opportunity to build Wheel of Time areas on an online internet game, a MUD [Multiple User Domain]. My question is when was the transition period between the Old Tongue and the new tongue? I assumed it was after the Breaking, but many of Mat's memories still have the Old Tongue in them, and they were long after. When was the change, and what caused it?

    Robert Jordan

    I have gone into this in some depth in other places, but basically after the Breaking, the primary language was still what is called the Old Tongue. In the period between the Breaking and the Trolloc Wars, what would become the language spoken today began to develop as a common or vulgar tongue. During the period between the Trolloc Wars and the War of the Hundred Years, that vulgar tongue supplanted the Old Tongue as the usual or everyday mode of speech, and the Old Tongue regressed to being more and more something of scholars. At the time of Artur Hawkwing, anyone who was educated, whether noble or commoner, could speak and write the Old Tongue, but in everyday life, most people used something very much like what is spoken today. And it was the simple swamp.

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  • 22

    Interview: Nov 11th, 2000

    Rune from Dragonmount

    Do you have a Languages education? Where did you get the idea for the Old Tongue?

    Robert Jordan

    Well, I got the idea for the Old Tongue simply because the core beginnings of this story lie 3000 years in the past—and I've never heard of a language remaining unchanged over that length of time. We could not understand the English spoken by an Englishman from 1000 years ago, and we'd have difficulty understanding him from 500 years ago, and the same holds true for a Frenchman with his language or a German with his.

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  • 23

    Interview: Apr 5th, 2001

    Aan'allein

    Sitting in the back of the room, my memo-recorder didn't pick up very much, but the following is what I can make out of it and remember as answers to a question about how he created the Old Tongue (always a topic some people are very interested in):

    Robert Jordan

    —There is no simple standard way to make plurals, to shift the irregular verb, it's all adapted because of the merging of different languages. (Just like around 900 AD when the Saxons encountered the Danes and began creating a Lingua Franca, so the Old Tongue is also supposed to have been created by mixing different languages, and thus has a lot of the same sort of irregularities as English has.)

    —He started with that list of 880 English words with which you should be able to manage in 95% of English conversations, removed what he found unnecessary and added others he needed.

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  • 24

    Interview: Apr 6th, 2001

    Aan'allein

    Oh, Rando, I'm really sorry about this, but Jordan overthrew your toh-toes argument.

    Pratchett was talking about you having to take care in fantasy not to use words like 'sandwich', unless you had the sandwich guy appear in your story.

    Jordan disagreed: the writer is simply translating... And their word for a bit of unidentifiable meat wrapped in between some...two slices of greasy bread would translate as 'sandwich.' But that's not what they call it at all, that's just what you call it in English.

    Footnote

    Rando is presumably referring to Min's lame joke to Aviendha about 'toes' in Winter's Heart, 'A Lily in Winter'. His argument probably still holds, as it's something that shouldn't translate outside of an amazing coincidence.

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  • 25

    Interview: Apr 8th, 2001

    Question

    A question about how he formed the Old Tongue.

    Robert Jordan

    The actual words are based on many words. I have used Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and for a hint of the familiar, I used a little Gaelic, too. Because fantasy languages always have Gaelic in them. That's just the way it goes. But I made deliberately the grammar and structure complicated. [the Saxons and Danes story again] ... English is supposed to be the most difficult language to learn in the world as a second language. I think that that is pride speaking, but just the same...yes, well, "my language is harder than your language." I've been told it's true though, but whether it is, I don't know. ... [he once tried learning Cantonese] ... I'll tell you, there are eight tones in Cantonese. Mandarin isn't too bad, there are only four tones there, but you've got eight tones in Cantonese. And there are others that can get twelve or better in other dialects. You can as well just forget about it, unless you grew up yodeling from the cradle.

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  • 26

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Budapest Q&A (Verbatim)

    Question

    English has completely different [incomprehensible] vocabulary over the last couple of hundred years.

    Robert Jordan

    Oh sure, more than the last couple of hundred years English...

    Question

    [interrupts]: I mean, as taught(?) before as the last couple of hundred years as opposed to the Westlands. I mean, everybody spoke the Old Tongue.

    Robert Jordan

    English has absorbed words from other languages as recently as the last ten years.

    Question

    Well of course.

    Robert Jordan

    [interrupts] American English in particular is a sponge. The thing is that most Americans think they know no foreign words whatsoever. But if you sit them down with a test, you find that the average American knows twenty or thirty words of French, twenty or thirty words of German or, you know, maybe as many as fifty from Spanish—more than that from Spanish; probably knows close to a hundred words from Spanish—and between fifty and a hundred from Italian, and from other languages as well, because they have been absorbed into American English.

    Question

    But in the Wheel of Time world, you don’t have this flux of languages; you don't actually have many different languages. Even the Seanchan speak the same language.

    Robert Jordan

    [interrupts: And I set that up deliberately, because, you know, one of the things about a world that believes in a circular nature of time, is that they believe that there is no real possibility of change. It is one of the things that burden India, as you might know. Whatever I do to affect change...the Wheel of Time—which is as Hindu concept (from others as well, but the Hindus believe in that)—whatever I do to affect change, the Wheel will turn and all things will return to being as they are now. Therefore my effort to affect change is essentially useless. The great gift to the world of the ancient Greeks is that they were the FIRST culture to conceive of time as being linear, which allows for change. I can change things, I can change the future, and it will not return to what it is now, because time passes on; it does not double back. So I have a Wheel of Time world, where there is a belief in reincarnation and a belief that things will return to, not exactly the way they are now, but essentially as if there were two tapestries and you look at them from across the room, and they look identical, and it’s only when you get close that you can see the differences.

    I began to think also of the periods involved. Do you know why the mountains in this world are so incredibly rugged? Why there’s so few passes? These mountains are only a little over three thousand years old. There are no mountains in the world that are only three thousand years old. There are no mountains in the world that don’t have hundreds of thousands—millions—of years of wind and water erosion to have worn them down. THESE are mountains in their infancy. And in this world, be have had three distinct one thousand year periods, roughly from the Breaking of the World to the Trolloc Wars, from the Trolloc Wars to the War of the Hundred Years, from the War of the Hundred Years to today. Not quite a thousand years in each case, some were perhaps a little more. But in each case, what has happened is, you have had a mixing of the population during the turbulence—the nations breaking apart—a production of a lingua franca for these people to communicate with one another, and not enough time for that lingua degenerate into distinct languages which are no longer intelligible to one another.

    And that is enough so that the people of today could not understand the people from before the Trolloc Wars, who were speaking something very close to the Old Tongue, if not the Old Tongue itself. But they can understand the people of the Seanchan, who are speaking the language of Arthur Hawkwing’s time, which had not enough time to break down into separate languages, you see. And any effects of it breaking down into separate languages was modified by their getting together, so what’s happened over the space of just a thousand years is: they think each other have strong accents. It’s like I’m speaking to somebody who speaks English and he’s Jamaican, and I don’t understand him very easily, or he’s Nigerian. I don’t understand him very easily, and he’s a native English speaker—we can understand one another; it’s not easy, but we understand one another.

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  • 27

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Budapest Q&A (Verbatim)

    Mort

    [something about the Forsaken]

    Robert Jordan

    Essentially learned the local language.

    Mort

    They just got free and learned the local language in a few weeks or so.

    Robert Jordan

    A little more than a few weeks.

    Mort

    Wow...That's impressive! What about the first and second that were let loose?

    Robert Jordan

    They were very near the surface. It's one of the reasons for the effects on them. They were for three thousand years aware—not in a sleep like the others; aware—and more aware of what has happened in the world. And because of the way the Bore works... See, the Bore is not located at Shayol Ghul. Shayol Ghul is simply the place where the Bore is most easily sensed. The Bore is everywhere, because of the nature of the universe. And those two guys, in effect, spent the last three thousand years in a state of feeling that they had no body—they certainly had no ability to move—that they were simply trapped minds, but aware and drifting over the face of the earth, able to hear people, able to see what was happening in one area or another. They could speak the language when they came out.

    Mort

    You are talking about Aginor and Balthamel now.

    Robert Jordan

    Yeah.

    Mort

    And Ishamael as well?

    Robert Jordan

    Ishamael is a different case. Read and find out.

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  • 28

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Budapest Q&A (Verbatim)

    Question

    Did [Seanchan natives before Luthair] speak the same language?

    Robert Jordan

    The people there did not. But the people there...this is like an acquisition. This is sort of like what the Han did: when the Han conquered China, there were many languages in China, as there still are. Because Mandarin is one language and Cantonese is another. They use the same ideograms, because the Han said: “You may speak any language you wish to use, but you will use our alphabet, our ideograms.” And it is as if the French said poisson, you say whatever you say for “fish”, but all of you spelled it F-I-S-H, in English letters. The French spelled it F-I-S-H, in English letters and said poisson and that’s what they wrote when they said poisson. And that’s what you wrote: you would say whatever the Hungarian word is for “fish” but if you wrote it, you would write F-I-S-H in the English letters. And with the Consolidation, culturally the people of that conquering army had been much more absorbed than they were. Culturally they have little left of the culture that they brought with them. But their language was imposed: they imposed the language they brought with them. I’ve thought about it a little bit and I think there was, because of that history, probably more languages than one. The languages would have had more time to drift and more incentive to split apart than they did on the [Randland] continent, as I postulated its history, but those languages were wiped out.

    Question

    That’s what happened in India, by the way.

    Robert Jordan

    Yes. Those languages [on the Seanchan continent] were wiped out and the language that remains is essentially the language that was spoken by Arthur Hawkwing. But, because, as I say, of the things that happened after Hawkwing’s death: the shifting around of populations, mixing and blending of populations from different parts of the continent, and a thousand years of growth, and no time for that language to change a great deal. Also the one thing that has survived, which helped, I think: printing presses were one for the first things rediscovered, you might say, after the Breaking. People began printing books very shortly after the Breaking—I mean very shortly—as soon as people were setting up cities, there were people who had book presses going, and it’s an interesting thing: I can read Shakespeare and understand 98, 99 percent of the words and language. If you went back the same length of time between me and Shakespeare to behind him, he could not have understood what those people were saying, he could not have read what they wrote. Because the English language had changed in pronunciation, in the way the spelling was, in the way the letters were written, everything.

    What happened simultaneously then: it wasn’t as I’ve heard postulated that Shakespeare was so beautiful and so wonderful that he froze the English language. What happened was: the printing press came into common use and suddenly the language stopped changing as rapidly. It still changed, but you would take me back to Elizabethan times and I would have a hard time understanding the accents, but eventually I would work into understanding what would sound to me like strangely accented English, but pretty recognizably English for most, at least for London and the south of England. So we’ve got printing presses, and so in relatively short periods of time, the language is largely unchanged, not completely but largely, in each thousand year segment. Although over the three thousand year segment it has diverged from the Old Tongue, which you must learn to be an educated man, to what people speak now, and most people do not speak the Old Tongue and can not understand the Old Tongue. A thousand years back, you’ve got Arthur Hawkwing, and that’s the language that the Seanchan speak. And these people can understand it, they only think “You’ve got a funny accent, you speak too fast, and you speak too slow, and it’s all slurred.”

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  • 29

    Interview: Apr, 2003

    Budapest Q&A (Verbatim)

    Question

    Is the Old Tongue entirely alien to modern speakers?

    Robert Jordan

    I'm sorry?

    Question

    I know it sounds alien, but don't they recognize even a couple of words or word?

    Robert Jordan

    No, not really. You know, scholars would.

    Question

    How come, a language, over three thousand years—isn't that right?—three thousand years of the books' story, everyone spoke the Old Tongue didn't they? So over three thousand years the language has managed to change so much that you can't even understand a word or a phrase of that language. But over one thousand years, on the other hand, it has changed so little that you basically understand it as an accent.

    Robert Jordan

    If you consider English. You wouldn't understand Old English. You couldn't even read it. You could read the letters, probably. I couldn't; I've seen manuscripts. But printing does stabilize a language, so there is some shift, because, say, a thousand years, a little bit of shift. See, what I have got here, look at these points. This is the Breaking, the Trolloc Wars, the War of the Hundred years and now. Okay. From here to here the language changes somewhat, and from here to here the language changes somewhat. Now, a person here, from this period, right here, just before the War of the Hundred Years could understand somewhat the Old Tongue, but would think "he's got a strange accent". He's got a strange way of expressing himself, his grammar is strange. He puts the words together oddly and he's got a very strange accent, but that's the extend of it. It might be that the gap is not all the way from here to there, but maybe from here to here, that he thinks "I should understand this, but I don't quite, I don't quite understand" and a guy here, listening to this language, says "Yeah, I can understand him. He's got a funny accent, but I understand him." So okay, from here to here, he says, the guy here listens to someone from here speaking and he says "he's got a funny accent, but I understand him". A guy from here listening to someone from this point says "you know, I understand some of that, but it's not quite, you know" and from here to here he says "yeah, I almost think I should understand that, but I can't make out a word" and from here to here he says "What?" I know that the intervals and the true progression of a language are never that smooth, and that's one reason why I have never tried to put it in the books as exactly where these points of commonality existed and where the points shifted from being "I understand him with an effort" to "I think I should be able to understand this but I can't" to "what the hell is he saying, is he talking, I don't know this".

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  • 30

    Interview: Jul 22nd, 2004

    Jason Denzel

    We talked about the Forsaken and how they know how to speak the current language.

    Robert Jordan

    He said that if you can speak the Old Tongue, learning to understand and speak the new "Vulgar" tongue is not that difficult. When the Forsaken are together having their meetings, they speak in the Old Tongue. (RJ: "But I translate it for you guys.")

    Another very interesting note: Modern-day Sharans speak a form of the Old Tongue in their everyday speech. The exact analogy he used was a Roman landing in modern day Italy and having to figure out Italian from Latin. For someone extremely bright and well-educated like the Forsaken it wouldn't be that hard. This is also consistent with information in the books. The Old Tongue is more complex, so learning the Vulgar from Old Tongue is much easier than vice versa. It also gibes with Graendal's thought while she is writing a letter that the modern script was so easy to learn and duplicate.

    He also went on at length about his thoughts on language drift and the impact of the printing press on continuity.

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  • 31

    Interview: Sep 3rd, 2005

    Question

    Why is it that the Chosen and Lews Therin speak a language that Rand and everyone else can understand?

    Robert Jordan

    Because it is a very simple language to learn. When they Chosen are among themselves they are not speaking the language of the current time, they are speaking the Old Tongue, which I happily translate for you, so you don't have to struggle through it. But it is very much the same as Graendal thinking how easy it is to forge things in this time. The lettering script is simplified. But things managed to hang on for a certain extent. Printing presses for example were one of the things that managed never quite to be wiped out completely. Printing started up again, even a few times during the Breaking people managed to get printing presses going, and once the Breaking was over, printing was one of the first trades to get going, you might call it the first higher trade to get going.

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  • 32

    Interview: Sep 2nd, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    Well, for Liandra (my fellow Amyrlin of the official Nynaeve fanclub): Tar Valon doesn't mean 'white tower'. It does mean something else, but that's RAFO.

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  • 33

    Interview: Sep 4th, 2005

    Question

    You have said you are going to keep the series to twelve books. Since we are on eleven, what comes after book twelve, what do you plan to do after that?

    Robert Jordan

    At some point I will do the two prequel novels that I talked about, the two other prequel novels, besides New Spring. But, primarily I will give Harriet a small hand on a project she has signed a contract for; she's gonna do an encyclopedia of the Wheel of Time which will have all of the characters, all of the terms, all of the invented words, and roughly and a roughly eight hundred fifty to nine hundred vocabulary in the Old Tongue.

    What I will be starting with is a trilogy called Infinity of Heaven, which will be a different universe, different world, different set of rules, different cultures. One culture that you meet eventually will be as close to being inside the Seanchan empire as you can come, but this culture is even more stratified both vertically and horizontally than the Seanchan empire, much more like ancient Japan truly was, or really like medieval Japan truly was.

    It's funny I talked about a book I'm gonna call Shipwrecked, some of you may have heard of that. Shipwrecked is actually the second volume of the Infinity of Heaven trilogy, because I realized I needed more of the setup and as I did more of the setup I realized I had another novel here. It could not be the first part of the novel to do that, it had to be this was a novel in itself. So in these things I had thought ten or twelve years ago, would be a trilogy, has become two trilogies, but I intend to try and hold it to that very tightly.

    Question

    I guess I have two questions after hearing that. One is, are we going to see a full version of the prophecies of the Dragon in the encyclopedia?

    Robert Jordan

    No, the prophecies would be a volume in themselves, and I don't think I am going to go into that. I will admit I have not written out a complete set of the prophecies. I have the prophecies written out that I needed, but not the others.

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  • 34

    Interview: Oct 2nd, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For Infested Templar, two women linking have slightly less of saidar available to them than the two women would have individually. But it can be used much, much more precisely, and therefore more effectively, than they could manage working merely as partners. The reduction also occurs for men entering a circle. One man in a circle means that only the amount of saidin that he can handle, less the reduction for being in a circle, is available. Men can be much stronger than women in the pure quantity of the Power that they can channel, but on a practical level, women are much more deft in their weaving and that means the strongest possible woman can do just about anything that the strongest possible man could, and to the same degree.

    And finally, the Old Tongue is written in a script that has more letters than the English alphabet, some representing diphthongs. That script will be in the Encyclopedia that Harriet will do, along with 950 or so words of the Old Tongue derived from what is called Basic English, the 950 words necessary to carry on a understandable conversation. Some words I dropped as essentially unnecessary to the books—electricity, for example—while others—such as sword and names of birds and animals—I had to add. The total might come nearer 1000 words by now.

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  • 35

    Interview: 2005

    Robert Jordan

    To: Les Dabel, Ernst Dabel
    Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2005 12:52 PM
    Subject: NUMERALS

    I'm sending this to both of you to make sure it gets through to one of you. Here are the numerals I came up with. I think they fit well with Elisa's alphabet. I am considering that maybe the zero should be made a mirror image so it doesn't resemble a d so much. What do you think?

    Jim

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  • 36

    Interview: Dec 19th, 2005

    Robert Jordan

    For someone—Marigan, I think, but my notes are a little wonky right about here—the Crystal Throne is not the High seat of the Tamyrlin, none of the Forsaken were among the Nine Rods of Dominion, and the "Rods" were symbols of office.

    Mil Tesen was really just a peddler who happened to be in the right place to pass on news of Morgase's supposed death to Gawyn. Not everyone is somebody other than who they seem, you know.

    And finally, Da'concion means "the Chosen Ones" in the Old Tongue, which is used with more frequency among the Seanchan than among inhabitants of the eastern side of the Aryth Ocean.

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  • 37

    Interview: Apr 23rd, 2010

    Matt Hatch

    Is the Horn an object of the Power?

    Maria Simons

    RAFO, but I will tell you something about the Horn. People always ask why the inscription on the Horn is in the Old Tongue, if it's so old. It was added in the Age of Legends.

    Terez

    It should also be noted that, when a panel moderator asked the audience if we wanted to see the Heroes of the Horn come back before the end, Maria raised her hand high.

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  • 38

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2010

    Question

    In the early books, when Mat speaks in the Old Tongue without realizing it, he speaks with a certain voice that seems different from when it happens in Towers of Midnight, why is that?

    Brandon Sanderson

    The simple answer is that Mat is now getting more comfortable with who he is and the memories in his head, so it's coming out smoother now. Some of the difference is that the earlier books were completely written by Robert Jordan and I can't know what he was thinking at the time he wrote them.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Also, the Old Tongue is constantly shifting and idiomatic. It is very fluid, and certain words can mean more than just one word. There will be a lot more of the Old Tongue in A Memory of Light and the Encyclopedia. (Old Tongue is one of Alan's specialties!)

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  • 39

    Interview: Nov 8th, 2010

    Question

    What exactly does Mah'alleinir mean?

    Brandon Sanderson

    It means 'He who Soars'.

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  • 40

    Interview: Nov 16th, 2010

    Brandon Sanderson

    Julien also asked what Shanna'har meant and [Brandon] said that he had asked Alan for a word that meant "commemoration" in the Old Tongue.

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  • 41

    Interview: Jan 21st, 2003

    Sean

    Sean asked Robert Jordan if the gypsy language influenced his language.

    Robert Jordan

    He said it did not, however the Old Tongue was taken from Danish, old English, Welsh as well as Eastern European, and Asian. Which explains the familiarity, Sean told me later, the gypsy language is influenced by the aforementioned areas also.

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  • 42

    Interview: Dec 2nd, 2010

    Andrew Gelos

    I guess part of the thing that is interesting to me, and I guess being a student of Literature, I am horribly fascinated with fictional languages. How extensive is the vocabulary of the Old Tongue as it exists right now? I'm assuming that there is more of it than we have seen in the novels. And do you know if there were rules set down to explain the creation of the vocabulary? And kind of alongside that, is there—obviously I kind of take the answer about London to be a similar question, or a similar answer towards whether or not there's an actual philological basis for the Old Tongue—part of what I'm wondering is…I've been using the Shienaran phrase "Suravye ninto manshima taishite" as sort of our closing for the podcast. I'm tentatively wondering how badly I'm butchering that.

    Alan Romanczuk

    Oh, you're spot on. Spot on.

    VIRGINIA

    Yay Andrew!

    ANDREW GELOS

    Sweet!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Jim actually spoke pretty extensively in public about the Old Tongue, and I even pulled up a letter that he had written about it in which he says, "The Old Tongue is based on, for example, the languages: Gaelic, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and some additions of my own—bridging material if you will. Grammar and syntax are a blending of English, German, and Chinese with some influence from a set of African languages read about long ago, and all but the oddities of structure long since forgotten." He has converted constructions…the thing about the Old Tongue, the way that it's constructed…it is a very loose language, like Latin I guess; it can be presented in almost any order and be intelligible to someone who knows it, and there are several conventions involved in it which could be explained for a longer podcast, but those are the basics. He really did pull them from a lot of different areas, and he started by constructing the language—as I recall there is a list of 850 or 880 common words that you need to know to be able to speak in English, and I don't know who created these, but he had that. We have file, and he modified that, kicking out some words like 'electricity' and so forth that wouldn't be useful in this, and adding some others, and putting definitions to them in Old Tongue. I never added it up, but he said we had a file of about a thousand words, and this dictionary will be published at a later time.

    VIRGINIA

    Great.

    ANDREW GELOS

    That is awesome.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    And that will be part of the encyclopedia, actually.

    ANDREW GELOS

    That'll be great.

    VIRGINIA

    I can't wait. That sort of leads me into my next question which is something that, two years ago when Brandon was out on the Mistborn tour—the last Mistborn book tour—during an interview, I asked him if he could please come up with some way for us to say phrases having to do with the Light, such as 'Walk in the Light,' or 'May the Light illumine you' in the Old Tongue, and he said he would do his best, and I think he just forgot. But we do have the audio; he kind of sort of promised us. We're hoping that maybe you can bail him out on this one. [laughter]

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Well, I think all will be revealed in the encyclopedia.

    VIRGINIA

    Aww, I can't wait that long!

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    Except what isn't revealed.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    How far is the encyclopedia coming? People ask me about it occasionally, and I'm like, 'I dunno; they're working on it.'

    MARIA SIMONS

    Well, it's been back-burner recently because we're doing Towers of Midnight, but that's my next project to get back into, doing basically the skeleton for it, and after A Memory of Light we will go full bore on it.

    JENNIFER LIANG

    Oh, excellent. I remember Harriet saying that it was due one year after the final book, whenever the final book is out.

    MARIA SIMONS

    Right.

    ALAN ROMANCZUK

    And we're working on it in between when we get time, when we're not doing podcasts and so forth. [laughter]

    VIRGINIA

    Oh, now you're making us feel guilty. [laughter] But not very.

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  • 43

    Interview: Apr, 2012

    Luckers

    What does amahn'rukane mean?

    Brandon Sanderson

    *stares at me blankly for a long moment* What... um... what has been said on it before?

    LUCKERS

    Just that it’s a sword sticking out of the earth. Cadsuane names it...

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    Oh right, umm. I don’t know. *he laughs* You can probably tell something about it from that.

    LUCKERS

    That it’s not important.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    *laughs again*.

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  • 44

    Interview: Jan 9th, 2013

    Question

    How was the Old Tongue created?

    Harriet McDougal

    Jim had books on almost every language in the world in his study. He drew inspiration from those.

    Maria Simons

    A lot of it comes from those and at the same time a lot was just his own creativity in adapting that into this world which he has created.

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  • 45

    Interview: Jan 9th, 2013

    Question

    How was Old Tongue created? Was it based on another language, or was it just off the top of his head?

    Maria Simons

    It was based on a lot of different languages. He had shelves and shelves of language books—every language, practically, known to man—but it was a lot of creativity on his part to put it all together.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Another fun story here. At one point, when I was visiting Charleston, I was talking about the mythological significance of certain things, and I'm like, "I can't figure out the mythological significance of the ashandarei." I knew pieces of Mat's mythological significance—not based on language, but the mythology—and Harriet said, "Oh, I know where it came from." She ran out to his library, selected a specific volume, came back with it and gave it to me and said, "It's this chapter right here." And showed me a chapter in that book that I could read that talked about the mythological significance of that specific piece of the Wheel of Time world. And so, there are all sorts of things like that that he used.

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  • 46

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Terez

    The name...how do you pronounce it? Is it no-tay, or no-tie?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Oh, it's...you pronounce the K.

    Terez

    Oh, you pronounce the K!

    Brandon Sanderson

    ....according to Alan, who is the Old Tongue expert, who corrected me on it even though I named him.

    Terez

    So say it!

    Brandon Sanderson

    k'no-tie. But Alan can correct me, because Alan is the expert.

    Terez

    Does it have any mythological basis that you know of?

    Brandon Sanderson

    No, it does not that I know of, because that one, as most of the names—not all of them, but most of them that I named, because I named him—came from me writing something in English, and saying, "Alan, give me the Old Tongue."

    Terez

    Okay.

    Brandon Sanderson

    And so, there are times where he'll find something, and I'll be like, "Oh, that sounds like this! Let's use it. Oh, this sounds like this; let's use it." Most of the time, it's...he comes up with the direct translation.

    Terez

    Like, Shaisam, actually...

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah.

    Terez

    Yeah, I mean that's easy to figure out for us, right?

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah. And there are some where I say, "Let's find something that feels like this..." and then, you know, of course, Perrin's hammer, right?

    Terez

    Yeah.

    Brandon Sanderson

    That's one where you're like, you know, let's find an Old Tongue translation that works for what the mythological symbolism is.

    Terez

    And that works well. It's hard to pronounce though.

    Brandon Sanderson

    Yeah, it is a little hard to pronounce though.

    Terez

    Can you pronounce it?

    Brandon Sanderson

    MAH-HAHL-in-ear? Eh...ask Alan.

    Terez

    (laughs) Okay.

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  • 47

    Interview: Feb 22nd, 2013

    Question

    Two words that I find very evocative are Dreadbane and Balescream. What's yours?

    Brandon Sanderson

    You can usually guess that if it's not Old Tongue, it's probably me.

    Question

    I mean what's your favorite word? What's the word you find most evocative from the series?

    Brandon Sanderson

    In the series. Let me see. Hmm. I've always liked the term Heartstone. I would think. That one is very evocative to me.

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  • 48

    Interview: Apr 15th, 2013

    Reddit AMA 2013 (Verbatim)

    ShakaUVM ()

    Why is the Old Tongue always the same Old Tongue? Shouldn't some of Mat's previous lives speak Old Old Tongue? Or Old Old Old Tongue?

    Brandon Sanderson

    I've envisioned it as the Old Tongue being a kind of 'perfect' language, so to speak. An ideal language that goes beyond simple language development. When Mat speaks it, he's tapping into something greater than himself. This is my personal feeling, however, as the notes do not answer this question.

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  • 49

    Interview: Mar 17th, 2012

    Zas

    This one is from Terez, about WoT. It says "Does Moridin have anything to do with the Knife of Dreams?"

    Peter

    She thinks that his name "Tedronai" translates into Knife of Dreams in WoT.

    BRANDON SANDERSON

    (slightly surprised) Oh. If that is the case Terez,which it very well may be, I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s mostly because I don’t do anything with the Old Tongue- I let Alan handle it, because he’s so good at it, I pretty much just refer to him. The only thing I tried to name on my own was Perrin’s hammer. And even that, he had to fix a few little things to make it work right.

    So I won’t kill that theory, but I can’t confirm it either.

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  • 50

    Interview: Jan 10th, 2013

    NutiketAiel

    When working on a personalization for a fan:

    Brandon Sanderson

    "My Old Tongue is rusty."

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  • 51

    Interview: Aug 23rd, 2014

    Harriet McDougal (paraphrased)

    The Wheel of Time Encyclopedia is dead! Long live The Wheel of Time Companion as it will now officially be called.

    The book will be 350,000 words long (comparable to several of the novels in the series; the longest, The Shadow Rising, is 389,000 words).

    The book will feature a lot of new artwork, arranged by Irene Gallo at Tor.

    Publication date likely to be November 2015.

    The book will feature all of the already-published maps and also some new ones, including one of Thakan'dar.

    The book will have a large vocabulary of the Old Tongue, with a minimum of 1,000 words.

    The book will feature character profiles and sketches for almost every character in the series. Even Bela has her own entry.

    The book will be written from a post-AMoL POV. It will have spoilers for the entire series.

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